Lost in Space? Unmasking the T Cell Reaction to Simulated Space Stressors

Research outputpeer-review


The space environment will expose astronauts to stressors like ionizing radiation, altered gravity fields and elevated cortisol levels, which pose a health risk. Understanding how the interplay between these stressors changes T cells’ response is important to better characterize space-related immune dysfunction. We have exposed stimulated Jurkat cells to simulated space stressors (1 Gy, carbon ions/1 Gy photons, 1 µM hydrocortisone (HC), Mars, moon, and microgravity) in a single or combined manner. Pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-2 was measured in the supernatant of Jurkat cells and at the mRNA level. Results show that alone, HC, Mars gravity and microgravity significantly decrease IL-2 presence in the supernatant. 1 Gy carbon ion irradiation showed a smaller impact on IL-2 levels than photon irradiation. Combining exposure to different simulated space stressors seems to have less immunosuppressive effects. Gene expression was less impacted at the time-point collected. These findings showcase a complex T cell response to different conditions and suggest the importance of elevated cortisol levels in the context of space flight, also highlighting the need to use simulated partial gravity technologies to better understand the immune system’s response to the space environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16943
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

Cite this